Sunday, March 30, 2008

Steamed Silver Perch

Have prepared:

  • 1 fresh snapper, dressed
  • 1 teaspoon shredded ginger root
  • 1 green onion shredded fine (white section)
Place fish on a thin platter, and over it, spread evenly:
  • Shredded ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole green onion
Place platter on a trivet in a steamer, making sure water is boiling. Cover and steam for 15 minutes. Test with fork. Fish should be removed before it has a chance to become overdone.

When fish is steaming, heat:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
When fish is done, drain and place on platter. Discard whole green onion, then pour over the fish:
  • Hot vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
Garnish silver perch with the shredded green onion and serve steaming hot with fried or steamed rice.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bundeena Kayaking

Temasek Club's activity for the month is kayaking at Bundeena. My sister wants to try her hand at kayaking; GF is happy enough to go anywhere; me, I just want to take pictures. It's a pleasant one-hour morning drive to Bundeena. Once you enter the Royal National Park, just follow the long winding road through Maianbar, then to Bundeena. After a nice breakfast of crispy pancakes at The Fringe, we checked out the Horderns Beach. Once the group is complete, we drove to the nearby Port Hacking. While everybody else went kayaking, GF and I walked along the banks of the Simpsons Bay. After 2 and a half hours, the guys paddled back. Passed by Centro Roselands on our way back and had late lunchearly dinner at the food court.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Great Assembly of Lotus Flowers

It was really by chance that we got to know of this Buddhist event being organized by a group called Voices of Wisdom. Learned about the event by way of a bookmark that my Mom picked up. We're not really sure what it's about, but since it's free and my parents has never been inside the Opera House we decided to go.

The event was held at the Utzon Room from 11am till 4pm. We got there around noon, and there's already a long queue snaking around the box office. Nothing like a free gift to bring out the crowds. After half an hour, one of the organizers came out of the room and announced the unfortunately, they ran out of free gifts. In time, we reached the room.

In the center of the room, there's a small table with three Buddhist statues. Underneath the table is portable CD/cassette player repeating a Buddhist chant. There are markings on the floor forming a big circle around the table. People are supposed to enter the circle at one point, go around the statues three times while chanting, and come out at another part of the circle. At the exit, you'll be given a gift voucher, which you can exchange for a free gift.

At least that's how it's supposed to work. What saddens me is that I've seen people walk around the circle just once - without even chanting, come out of the circle, and immediately ask for their free gift. Some even bring along their kids, and insist that they, too, be given the gift vouchers. Worse, I believe some parties even did the routine twice to get more free gifts. You can argue that, hey, the organizers are giving away the gifts - you'd be foolish not to take it. Still, there's something to be said about taking only what you need.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Port Stephens Tour

It was a good day for a tour; it was a bad day for a tour. It was the long Easter weekend. Too bad it had been raining the past few days.

GF and I met up at Central station around 6:45am, then walked to the Sydney Entertainment Centre where the NCT bus was supposed to leave at 7am. From the city centre, we went to Chatswood to pick up more people.

Programme for the day is as follows:

  • Australian Reptile Park (Gosford) - $22.00
  • Divers Luck Winery (Port Stephens) - $3.00
  • Dolphin Watch Cruise (Nelson Bay) - $19.50
  • Seafood Lunchbox - $12.50
  • Four-Wheel Drive (Anna Bay) - 19.00
  • Sandboarding (Anna Bay) - free
The morning was pretty uneventful, except for the fact that our tour guide kept forgetting that GF and I had already paid our expenses in full. Turns out when we gave him our payment, he marked the wrong person's entry. And now the other person is claiming that he had also paid. I'm pretty sure we had already paid, so I'm not budging. After a while, the tour guide came back to our seats, and wanted to confirm that I'm not lying to him. Geez, as if I'd lie in front of GF.

After about an hour or so of driving, we arrived at the Australian Reptile Park. GF and I didn't join the tour anymore as we're not really into reptiles. Killed time at the lobby and the souvenir shop. It drizzled a bit; hopefully it stops by the time we get to Anna Bay. Next stop is the Divers Luck Winery, supposedly the first and only winery in Port Stephens. One of the staff gave us a short overview of how they make their botique wines. Three dollars gives us a sampling of two white wines, two red wines, and port. Felt a bit tipsy after all that drinking. That's actually not good because next up is our noontime dolphin-watching cruise at Nelson Bay. The weather's not cooperating, too, as the winds are pretty strong, resulting in some choppy waves, adding to my seasickness. I went below deck to pick up our seafood lunchboxes. Again, the tour guide asks me if I have really paid for the expenses. Unbelievable. I had to look around to see if there's a hidden camera somewhere. The seafood lunchbox is no good. At $12.50, I really expected better. After sailing here and there for an hour, our skipper gave up sighting dolphins and brought the ship back to port.

Now, for the highlight of the day. After more driving, we got to Anna Bay. I'm quite surprised with the change of landscape. On one side is the Birubi Beach. On the other side is desert as far as the eyes can see. Undulating sand dunes with clumps of vegetation here and there. There are even camels that you can hire to take you around. In our case, we used a 4WD coach to bring us to the sand hills for sandboarding. The hills are about 30 meters high, and the slopes are pretty steep. If that's too much, you can try the gentler slopes at the side. There are boards littered about. You pick one up, sit on it, and off you go. My first run down the slopes is quite fast and exhilarating. The good thing is that you can slow down your speed by using your hands as brakes. It gets a bit tiring after a few tries because you have to climb all the way to the top. GF was content to just watch and take pictures from the sidelines.

Three hours and some Bee Gees and Teresa Teng concerts later, we're back at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. Late dinner at Ramen Kan to finish the day.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Blog Revamp

It's been a long time coming, but I finally switched from the classic Blogger template to widget-style editing. Most of the template came out intact, but I lost some of my customized HTML code - some handcrafted sidebar elements, links to reddit, digg,, etc.

What I liked about the widgets-based template is that it makes formatting the page very easy. Integrating new apps is as easy as opening a widget window and pasting in some Javascript code. I managed to port over Radioblog, Google Search, Snap's mini previews, Statcounter, and Google Analytics. Instead of the Flickr Badge, which only displays the latest pictures, I uploaded 800+ of my photos, and used Google's Picasa slideshow.

Shrimp Balls

Chop finely:

  • 1/2 pound fresh cleaned prawns
  • 1/4 cup bamboo shoots
  • 1/4 cup canned button mushrooms
  • 1 whole green onion
  • Add:
  • pepper
  • salt
  • few drops sesame seed oil
Place in mixing bowl and add:
  • white of one egg
Mix together until fluffy. Leave the bamboo shoots and mushrooms till last. Form into small balls the size of marbles. Add cornstarch if mixture too wet.

Dip balls in batter of:
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoon oil
  • Sufficient water to make smooth batter of pancake consistency
Fry until golden brown.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Chicken in Parchment

Combine in a large mixing bowl:

  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese parsley, minced
  • 1 teasepoon spring onions, minced
  • 1/2 teasepoon hoisin sauce
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup uncooked chicken fillets cut into 1-inch square thin slices
Mix thoroughly and marinate for an hour.
Wrap each piece of chicken in 3-inch square pieces of parchment paper securely with all lose corners tucked in.
Fry parchment chicken in deep, hot vegetable oil for 5 minutes.
Drain on absorbent paper toweling and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Poetry and Passion at Naremburn Park

Quite a busy day today - after the movies, it's off to the park we go. Took the train to St. Leonards station, then from there, took the Willoughby Council shuttle bus to Naremburn Park for the free open-air Poetry and Passion classical concert by the Willoughby Symphony Orchestra.

I do have a ticket to the special reserved area sitting. Since GF doesn't have one, we just sat on one of the benches at the fringe of the park. Given our distance to the stage and strong winds, we didn't get to hear much of the orchestra's performance. It started to get a bit cold in the night, so we had to get some hot tea. Back at Burwood, a quick dinner at Canton Noodle House rounded up the day nicely.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Paolo Santos Live & Intimate Australian Tour at Basement Blacktown

Not really a big Paolo Santos fan. I kinda liked his breakout song Moonlight in Paris back in the early 90s because that's when I first heard the song. Then he started doing mostly covers of old songs - changing a few notes here and there. Never really liked his falsetto voice.

Anyway, he's here in Sydney to do a couple of shows. Am surprised he's still around, given that most of his contemporaries have come and gone. GF's brother-in-law sounds like a big fan, so we all went to Basement Blacktown to see him (Paolo) perform. Had I known earlier that Paolo Santos also has a show at Burwood RSL, I would've recommended that instead. Tickets costs $35 bucks - not too expensive considering he did two sets for the night, with each set consisting of 10 songs or more. Then again, the concert venue is not that nice. It's at the basement level of the building, way too many tables, only lighting is the plasma screens here and there, and insufficient ventilation. The food's not too bad though. Or is it because I haven't had Filipino food for a long time now?

Paolo was in his regulation T-shirt and jeans. He's got good rapport with the audience. (Not that difficult since most of the audience are fans anyway.) He sang the trademark Paolo Santos songs - mostly slow smooth ballads, easy to sing: Sailing, Overjoyed, Huwag na Lang Kaya, No Woman No Cry, Magasin, Roxanne, etc. It was getting late, so we left a little after the second set.

Salmon Patties


  • 300 g potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 400 g can red salmon, drained and with bones and skin removed
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon sauce
  • plain flour for dusting
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • oil, for shallow-frying
Cook the potato in boiling water until it is soft. Drain well, place it in a bowl and mash until smooth.
Add the salmon, spring onion, chopped parsley, sweet chili sauce and lemon juice, and mix to combine.
Divide the mixture into equal portions. Shape each portion into round patties with wet hands.
Coat the patties lightly with flour, then dip each one into the beaten egg and coat with the breadcrumbs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Heat about 1/2 inch oil in frying pan to moderately hot. Add 4 patties to the pan, cook for 4 minutes each side, or until golden brown.
Drain the patties on paper towels and keep them warm while you are cooking the remaining patties.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Opera on the Big Screen - Carmen

For the first time, Sydney Opera House is doing a live broadcast of Opera Australia's production of Carmen to big screens at The Forecourt, Federation Square in Melbourne, and to eight regional theaters across Australia.

Opera on the Big Screen is open to the public, with a limit of four tickets per person. I registered online for the event, and got four wristbands in the mail, which I gave to GF and my sister. This is actually my first time to watch an opera. For one, operas are relatively more expensive compared to regular plays and concerts. Two, I know some arias and selected songs from selected operas, but I don't know if I'll be able to sit through one complete opera. (This one runs for 2 hours and fifty minutes inclucing one twenty-minute interval). Thanks to the live broadcast, I now know I can - given the right price and the right company.

A short synopsis of the opera. Don Jose, a corporal of dragoons, was seduced by Carmen, a gypsy cigarette girl. She convinces him to let her escape when she was arrested for creating trouble. Later on, she manages to get him to desert the regiment and join the smugglers in the mountains. Don Jose is unhappy because Carmen is flirty and fickly, and she now has the hots for Escamillo the toreador. In the last act, Carmen goes to the arena to watch Escamillo perform. In a fit of anger and jealousy, Don Jose kills her with a knife.

While the cast were taking their bow on the big screen, most of the people outdoors got up and got ready to leave. But wait, there's more! The cast came out of the Opera House, went on stage, and took their bow again. Live relay, my foot. :-)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Woy Woy Walk

Joined Temasek Club's Central Coast Coastal Bushwalk. The group met up at the Old Killcare Store at the corner of Araluen Drive and Killcare Road for breakfast. After everyone had their fill, we drove over to the nearby Bouddi National Park and started our 2.5-hour walk. From Putty Beach, we followed the coast all the way to Maitland Bay Beach, passing by Gerrin Point Lookout for sweeping views of the sea. Rested for a while at Maitland Beach, then retraced our steps back to Putty Beach.